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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

... and why he should stay home

July 15, 2008

By Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow
From the Los Angeles Times
July 13, 2008

President Bush's announcement that he will attend the opening ceremonies
of the Beijing Olympics came in the wake of brutal crackdowns in Tibet
and during a week when seven peacekeepers were murdered in the Darfur
region of Sudan, where China continues to underwrite the carnage.

It also came at a moment when a growing group of U.S. and international
politicians have taken a stand by eschewing the opening ceremonies --
the only component of the Games geared not toward celebrating the
athletes but entirely toward burnishing the Beijing regime's political
image. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela
Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were joined recently
by European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering in deciding not to
attend. Barack Obama and John McCain have indicated that if they were
president they would not attend unless they saw a significant
improvement in China's human rights record.

Bush has squandered an enormous opportunity. Beijing has been
notoriously indifferent to traditional diplomatic pressure, but it has
leaped into action to protect the Games. Early efforts by human rights
activists to link Darfur to the Games prompted Beijing to hastily
appoint an envoy to the region, to soften its veto threats on the U.N.
Security Council and, most significantly, to sign last year's U.N.
resolution authorizing a protection force for Darfur.

A presidential boycott of the opening ceremonies might have proved to be
a powerful additional point of leverage with an otherwise intractable
regime. A boycott limited to the opening ceremonies also would have had
the advantage of not targeting the athletes. And it would have sent a
strong symbolic statement to Beijing at little substantive cost to
U.S.-China relations.

Instead, Bush has made a powerful statement tacitly approving China's
behavior. His decision is regrettable.

It was a missed opportunity for the United States to stand strong in
support of the anguished people of Darfur as well as the Tibetans in
their long struggle.

It was an opportunity to express solidarity with those Chinese citizens
whose human rights are being denied, to demonstrate moral leadership and
to represent the values and principles our nation was founded on.

It was a golden opportunity now lost.

Actress Mia Farrow has made nine trips to the Darfur region. Ronan
Farrow, a student at Yale Law School, has worked on human rights issues
in Darfur and South Sudan and on U.S.-China relations for the House
Foreign Affairs Committee. They are mother and son.
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